Fall is here, and with it flu season is nearly upon us. At this time of year, I always talk about the flu because it’s the time of the Lungs in Chinese Medicine. The Lungs’ job is to protect you from things that come in from outside – i.e. -your immune system. We all know the flu is highly contagious, and affects us physically, mentally, and spiritually. Stuffy, runny noses, sore throats, body aches and fatigue don’t have to be a part of your fall season, however! Protect yourself and your family with these natural immune system boosters.
Working With the Immune System
Our bodies are equipped with a complex system to protect us from illness. Take care of your immune system at all times, and even more so when those around you are infected with colds, flu, and other contagious ailments. Some of the most important things for your immune system include omega 3 fatty acids such as fish oil, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C. That’s another reason I suggest doing my Seasonal Reboot in fall: it can help clear out toxins from your body to set you up for a healthy fall season.
Turn Down Inflammation
In order for the immune system to do its job, control the inflammation in your body. Inflammation is your immune system’s response to things it doesn’t like. If you think about it, the flu is one giant inflammation in most of your body, causing lots of pain and swelling EVERYWHERE! Chronic stress, poor diet, food sensitivities, and fatigue can all cause an inflammatory response in the body. To support your immune system, be sure to get adequate rest, learn some stress management techniques, and stop eating foods that are irritants. Consider eliminating grains and sugars, as these often trigger inflammation.
Flu Prevention Supplements for the Season
If you are a person who tends to catch every little bug that comes by, or get sick even if someone a block away sneezes, it’s time for you to bolster your immune system with some every day preventive herbs starting right now. For a complete list, be sure to check out my Top 20 Supplements for Healthy Living. If this is you, here is my protocol for building your immune system.
- Vitamin C 500-1000 mg a day. If you are exposed, increase it to 2-3000mg a day
- Vitamin D 5000 IU a day (you can measure your levels and also treat accordingly). When exposed to flu, increase to 20000IU for 2-3 days
- Omega 3 fatty acids – take 2-4000 mg a day – all year long
- Zinc 15-30mg a day – if exposed to flu – suck on zinc lozenges to get the zinc in your throat.
- Host Defense – 2-4 capsules a day. If exposed to flu, double your dose for a few days.
- Elderberry is a wonderful preventive herb that also helps cure it if it’s coming on. Take 2-4 caps a day preventively, and 6-10 capsules a day if you’re sick.
What To Do If You Start to Feel Sick
There are so many things to do if you start to feel it coming on and no doubt you have your favorite remedies. Here are a few of my favorites, depending on your symptoms. In Chinese medicine, it is very important to do the right thing at the right time because it can save you. As I’ve already mentioned above in my list of mainstays, you can just increase your Vitamins D, C, and Zinc and prevent yourself from getting sick. AS SOON AS SYMPTOMS START!!! I’ve used high doses of Vitamin D many times and saved myself from getting ill. There is scientific evidence to back this up.
Beyond that, here is a list of helpful herbs or formulas to take. The key to using these successfully is to take them several times per day, not just once, and to make sure you load up on them:
- Wellness Formula: 2 capsules every 2-4 hours
- Yin Qiao – a Chinese Herbal Formula for sore throats: every 2-4 hours
- Olive leaf extract: 1 dose every 2-4 hours
- Echinacea and goldenseal: every 2-4 hours.
- Gargle with hydrogen peroxide or salt water every 20 minutes if you feel a tickle in your throat. This stops the virus from being able to grow. Hold the gargle for a good minute in the back of your throat.
- Go to bed and REST!!!
When It’s Time to Surrender
If all else fails and you do get sick, surrender to it. There is a certain point at which you can’t take more supplements or your body just wants to have you rest and lay down for a while. If you keep trying to fight it, or get mad at your body for not behaving, you will stay sick a lot longer. Just rest and also take the supplements that will help you recover more quickly. I view the flu and colds as a way of cleansing, which is another reason to do preventive cleansing once or twice a year, such as my Seasonal Reboot.
When strengthening the immune system, it’s important to remember that our mental and spiritual health also play a role. Take time to address any negative emotions like fear, guilt, or grief. In Chinese Medicine, fall is a season of letting go. Cultivating a spiritual practice can help you find support and solace as you prepare yourself for the seasons ahead.